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Player ratings: Breaking the Borthwick duck

OPINION: This is not a game that will live long in the memory and considering the fireworks in Dublin and Edinburgh at the weekend, this one-sided contest will likely dissipate from the discourse pretty soon.


But Steve Borthwick has his first win as England coach and with it, he’s answered a few questions.

He now knows the value of a proper inside centre. He now knows the value of reliability, rather than show-stopping antics, at flyhalf. And he knows that whatever has transpired in the past, welcoming back a player after a few years away can prove a masterstroke.

Daniel Gallan rates the England players!

15. Freddie Steward 6
Mostly a spectator in this one. Never really had the chance to pluck a high ball out of the air. When he did he made a mess of it and was disrupted by the much shorter Ange Capuozzo when a try looked a certainty from an Owen Farrell cross-kick.

14. Max Malins – 7
Quiet for the first 35 minutes but exploded into action when asked to do so. Picked up a loose ball and ghosted into a gap, showed the ball with his right hand and then darted off to his left before setting up Jack van Poortvliet to score. Except the try wasn’t given due to an obstruction call, which felt harsh. Still, this was a sign of Malins’ potency. If only he saw more of the ball.

13. Henry Slade – 8
His left boot gave a greater semblance of balance to the midfield. As did his intelligence with ball in hand. A hard running 12 inside him meant he could play to his strengths without having to bust through the gain line and instead worked the space. Some players just look like Test quality operators. Slade is one of them. Hooked for Marcus Smith with seven minutes to play.


12. Ollie Lawrence – 9
So that’s what an inside centre looks like. His first carry showed what England misses out on when a fly-half dons the 12 jersey. He charged straight and true and bust over the would-be tackler. His second carry was just as destructive. He’d make a total of 10 carries across a player of the match performance for 80 metres made, more than any other England player.

Whenever he was fed the ball it seemed as if he’d charge through a hole. Even if he didn’t he attracted the attention of two defenders. It helps when the big boys up front are winning the arm wrestle, but this was enough evidence to stick with him as the competition unfolds.

11. Ollie Hassel-Collins – 6
Completely absent from the game. Perhaps a sign of England’s inability to string together a backline move that unleashes the flyers on the wing. Carried just twice for 17 metres over 55 minutes. Made way for Henry Arundell.

10. Owen Farrell – 7
Assured and composed, albeit unspectacular. For all his attributes across the park it is obvious that he is most useful for England at 10, especially if they’re more interested in winning Tests than entertaining the masses. A few cute nudges off the boot kept the Italian defence guessing. More often than not he chose the right option and put to bed a particular debate. For now at least.


9. Jack van Poortvliet – 7
A dream scenario for a scrum half as he kept the ball spinning with his forwards dominating it up front. Might have made more of the platform, and the try scored by his replacement – Alex Mitchell on 60 minutes – could be used as ammunition against van Poortvleit. But that would be overly critical. He was sound without being electric.

1. Ellis Genge – 8
Another brilliant game from a man who continues to challenge the parameters of a prop. Lovely soft hands to set up Ollie Chessum’s try from close range. This was not the only bit of silky play from the ‘Baby Rhino’. His ability to delay a pass while drawing in the tackle is remarkable. Also solid in his primary job in the scrum. One of the best in the world. Substituted for Mako Vunipola on 55 minutes.

2. Jamie George – 8
Scored one try from a rolling maul and was at the back of another that ended with a penalty try. That set piece machine is made up of many moving parts but the Saracens hooker is arguably the most important of the lot. For his try, he recognised that the mass of humanity in front of him was splintering. Rather than aimlessly push on he slowed down before accelerating when the moment to strike presented itself. Handy round the park as well for 74 minutes before Jack Walker took his place.

3. Kyle Sinckler – 7
Faultless in the scrum, carried well and made 12 tackles across a 50 minute shift before he left the field with a face full of blood. Replaced by Dan Cole on 50 minutes.

4. Maro Itoje – 8
Much better from one of England’s icon stars. He’d copped deserved criticism after last week’s debacle against Scotland but took charge here. A nuisance in the maul and also nicked the ball once on the ground. England won this game because their pack bossed it up front. Itoje was key.

5. Ollie Chessum – 7
Scored his first try for England after burrowing over from close range. He’s just 22-years-old but has the composure of a seasoned second rower.

6. Lewis Ludlam – 8
Solid and reliable. Offered an option in the line-out option and kept being fed the ball in the set piece as England’s forwards turned the screws. Strong in the carry and energetic on defence making XX tackles, a team high. He lacks the dynamism of some of England’s absent loose forwards but is a safe pair of hands when the pack is on the front foot.

7. Jack Willis – 9
A simply brilliant show two years since he last represented his country. Tackled anything he could reach, rampaged with menace every time he touched the ball and was a nuisance on the floor both sides of the ball. Roared like a Viking berserker when he scored his try. The stats – 20 tackles made, two missed, five carries for 22 metres with one turnover – only tell a portion of the story. That was a near perfect back row display. Substituted for Ben Earl on 53 minutes.

8. Alex Dombrandt – 6
Knocked the ball on with his first carry but was effective in other areas of the field, mostly in the tight exchanges though still advanced 71 metres from 12 carries. The pedigree of other No. 8s around the world means that Dombrandt will always be graded on a curve. He was fine this afternoon, but never really set Twickenham alight and was replaced for Nick Isiekwe on 65 minutes.


16. Jack Walker – N/A
On for Jamie George to make his Test debut on 74 minutes.

17. Mako Vunipola – 5
On for Genge on 55 minutes. Along with Dan Cole was responsible for Allessandro Fusco’s try when the two big replacement props left a large enough hole for the Italian scrum half.

18. Dan Cole – 7
On for Sinckler on 50 minutes. Part of the problem when Fusco scored. Made up for it with a strong show in the scrum later in the piece just as England were losing their grip.

19. Nick Isiekwe – 6
On for Dombrandt on 65 minutes. Useful around the park winning one line-out.

20. Ben Earl – 7
On for Willis on 53 minutes. Bustling when he entered the scene, making seven tackles and 10 metres with ball in hand. Threw himself about with trademark energy.

21. Alex Mitchell – 8 On for van Poortvliet on 60 minutes. Zippy, as all replacement 9s should be. Ran a lateral line from broken play that set up Henry Arundell for a try in the corner. Lovely interplay elsewhere.

22. Marcus Smith – N/A –
Given only seven minutes to impress when he came on for Henry Slade

23. Henry Arundell – 8
On for Hassell-Collins on 55 minutes. Scored what will surely be the first of many tries in the competition. It didn’t require much work, but he was there to finish a move from Mitchell.


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